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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Activists Gang Up on Mayor Ed Lee at City Hall

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM


Today, protesters came at Mayor Ed Lee from all sides -- literally. On the Van Ness side of City Hall, a mix of Bay Area residents, politicos, and average Joes, gathered to oppose the mayor's controversial stop-and-frisk policy. Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, residents rallied against Lee's stalemate with the California Pacific Medical Center.

Mayor Ed Lee's consideration of stop-and-frisk prompted Theo Ellington, president of San Francisco Black Young Democrats, to initiate today's rally where residents called for an end to the idea even before it's been formally proposed. In addition, the group handed Mayor Lee a petition with some 2,000 signatures opposing stop-and-frisk activity.

Alongside the black activists were Supervisors John Avalos, Malia Cohen, David Chiu, Eric Mar, and David Campos, who were there to emphasize the importance of trust between cops and the community. A policy like this is "dehumanizing" and disruptive to that trust, they said.

Campos noted the irony of this situation. In 2010, he led a boycott on the state of Arizona to demonstrate his opposition of the state's controversial Senate Bill 1070, which said cops could stop -- without probable cause -- anyone who they believed might be an illegal alien. Now, Lee himself is considering stop-and-frisk, which could lead to the same kind of racial profiling, Campos said.

But Lee says his intention is to reduce the alarming increase in gun violence in San Francisco. With that, he's publicly stated he'd be happy to implement stop-and-frisk, modeled after New York City's policy, if it mean fewer shootings on the streets.

However, Cohen, who introduced a resolution last week opposing stop-and-frisk, noted how detrimental the policy has been in New York City.

"Last year, in NYC, police conducted 685,724 stops," she said at today's rally. "The vast majority of these stops, 88 percent to be exact, resulted in zero arrests, zero violations, and zero tickets disseminated." Fewer than 2 percent of the NYPD frisks resulted in recovering a weapon, and the majority of those stopped were black or Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24.

Cohen suggested other alternatives to address gun violence in San Francisco. She advocated to increase support of organizations, including the community response network and the community ambassadors program. "There's a need to increase efforts and resources targeted at getting guns off the streets through anonymous buyback programs," she said.

So what did Lee have to say about this rally and petition? Not a whole lot.

In a statement released today, the mayor tried to shift the conversation back onto the city's gun violence, and away from stop-and-frisk:

The month of June in San Francisco experienced a spike in shootings and homicides in our Southeast neighborhoods. This is unacceptable and while I take this issue extremely seriously, I want to be clear that I have not considered implementing a policy in San Francisco that would violate anyone's constitutional rights or that would result in racial profiling. I have stated that I am willing to look at what other cities are doing to reduce gun violence, including cities like New York and Philadelphia that both have stop and frisk programs.

He agrees that police and trust is important, and vowed to uphold Fourth Amendment rights. However, he says he's willing to put forward "bold ideas that get to results."

click to enlarge Apparently, neon green is the new color for rallies.
  • Apparently, neon green is the new color for rallies.

Meanwhile on Polk Street, some 50 protesters from the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council met outside City Hall to show their support for a plan to rebuild the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC).

According to the media reports, Lee recently backed out of his deal with CPMC to build two seismically safe hospitals in the city for $2.5 billion.

Questions arose about CPMC's commitment to St. Luke's Hospital, which serves lower-income residents. The issue of hospital construction has come to a standstill until CMPC promises to keep St. Luke's open for 20 years after it is rebuilt.

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Suzanne Stathatos


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